Sunday 19 November 2017

'Gentle giant' who emigrated for work killed in street attack

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A YOUNG electrician who recently moved to Holland to find work died last night after he was targeted in a brutal and unprovoked attack.

Niall Coyle (33), from Co Roscommon, suffered severe brain damage after he was assaulted outside a cafe in the city of Dordrecht, near Rotterdam, around midnight on Monday.

He fell to the ground and struck his head on the pavement when an unknown assailant attacked him from behind and kicked him as he lay on the ground.

Dutch police were last night questioning a 49-year-old man in connection with the attack.

Mr Coyle, of Four Roads, Co Roscommon, died with his mother Anne, sister Fiona and brother Kieran at his bedside.

The family had kept a vigil at Mr Coyle's bedside after he was rushed to hospital following the attack.

Other family members -- including his ailing father Eamon, sisters Niamh, Irene, Ena, Edel and Aine and brother Brian -- bid farewell over a satellite link from Ireland to Mr Coyle's hospital bed.

Local parish priest Fr Francis Beirne, a friend of the family, also read a prayer over the link after a priest in Holland read Mr Coyle his Last Rites on Wednesday night.

The tragic and senseless attack on Mr Coyle has deeply shocked the close-knit community, he said.

Hundreds of friends, family and local residents had packed the local Church of the Good Shepherd on Wednesday night to pray for Mr Coyle's recovery.

However, the injuries to his brain were so severe the family had no choice but to take him off life support.

The family have agreed to donate Mr Coyle's organs.

Mr Coyle, who had also recently travelled to Australia and Norway to work in the building trade, was described as a quiet, easy-going man who made friends wherever he went.


Fr Beirne described Niall, who was 6ft 5in tall, as a "gentle giant".

He added: "He was a very inoffensive and popular person.

"The heartbreak is palpable in this community.

"He was simply walking on the street and was struck from behind.

"It's absolutely repulsive to think we can't walk on the streets anymore after dark, especially for people who are kind and gentle and inoffensive."

Tony Connolly, a local retired teacher, said Mr Coyle was one of the nicest young men in the area.

"He had a big heart and a big smile and he wouldn't hurt a fly," he said.

Mr Coyle was an active supporter of the local GAA club where he played under-age hurling and was on the team that won the under-16s championships in 1992.

His sister Niamh is a camogie All-star who was awarded the County Camogie Player of the Year award last year.

And his brother Kieran is the chairman of the local hurling club.

"There's widespread horror here.

"He was such a big jolly guy, he'd never had a confrontation in his life," Four Roads GAA club secretary Gerry Mulvay told the Irish Independent.

"It's completely devastated the whole place. We're just gutted."

The Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it is offering consular assistance to Mr Coyle's family as they make arrangements to repatriate his body.

Irish Independent

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